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Beginner's Guide to Photography -Composition No.3
Symmetry and Patterns
Here is another 'rule', whereby we can use both symmetry and geometric patterns to increase the impact of the photograph. Be careful though, because increased use of such shapes can sometimes reduce the impact of a photograph as there tends not to be any particular focal point
As an example:
One of the significant differences between a good and a bad photographer, is that a good photographer will be prepared to alter his viewpoint, sometime quite simply by taking a step or two or bending his legs or perhaps sitting down, whereas someone who is not so good will stand static, without appreciating that a small change of position could radically alter the shot.
I give the example of a proud Mum who was taking a photograph of her 8 year old son wearing a gymnastics medal, that he had just won. The boy was stood against a brick wall with Mum towering over him.
I, firstly, got them to change positions so that the boy was in front of a nice bush and then got Mum to bend her knees so that the camera was below the boy's eye level.
Mum was extremely please with my simple intervention. So simple yet so effective!
Here are a few considerations about your positioning:
With children and people who are smaller it is always a good idea to be below their eye level.
If you are taking full length shots and you stand over them, their legs will appear extremely little.
It also makes a more natural shot to get the angle right.
Have look at this picture:
If you are taking any sports photographs that involve a jump, always get yourself low down, the angle will make your subject appear to be a lot higher than they actually were.
The other thing about taking a photograph from a lower position is that it can have the effect of cleaning up your background, Here is what I mean:
With portraits you can also get great effects by taking them from slightly above the subject.
This positioning is also really good for subjects of a certain age, as it slightly stretches out the front of the neck!
With this in mind you can also go for more extreme positioning and get some great effects:
One further useful tip, if you have subjects who are not of supermodel proportions, taking the photograph from a lower angle accentuates their height (beware there are so many tips, software programmes and photo manipulations to make people 'better looking' - you could end up with something akin to Frankenstein's monster)
Looking out of the picture
If you look at a picture and let's say that the subject is on the left hand third of the photograph, and they are looking left to right across the picture, your eye will naturally follow the gaze of the subject.
If you had the subject on the left third gazing to the left (out of the picture). Your eye will naturally be drawn off of the page, and the major area behind them will almost be irrelevant.
And to be honest the photograph just looks plain odd!
Where are they looking and are they smiling?
One further point to consider in any portraiture is where do you, as a photographer, want the subject to be looking?
Whilst there are picture where we want the subject looking away, looking down, across or whatever, there are times when we need the subject to look directly at the camera.
This can be harder to achieve than people think, particularly when you are taking a group photograph and there are times when it pays to be a bit larger than life, in order to attract people's attention and to get them to stop looking anywhere else apart from at the camera.
As an example, when I photographed a large Rugby club for their group photograph I found that the best way to get them all to look at the camera at the same time was to give a loud blast on a referee's whistle!
There are plenty of tips to achieve this, as an example, with children, have their Parent stand behind you, then get the Parent to do something stupid like bunny ears behind your head, pull a funny face, whatever it takes!
Now if only I could get all of my subjects to smile on cue (I am sure that if I invented a sure fire way of getting every subject to smile on cue and I could sell that formula, I would be a very rich man!)
With children you just have to try your best, whether that involves blowing raspberries, playing peek-a-boo behind the camera, carrying a glove puppet, and yes I have a various times tried them all.
But trust me, if a child, a moody teenager or a grumpy adult does not want to smile, they will not!
© 2017 Dave Proctor